Sometimes you just can’t help but play along. When our middle child was a toddler, his blue eyes could trump my reason. Each bedtime snuggle he declared, “Nose Chicken!” The golden boy pressed his face into mine, nose to nose, until my grown up smeller yielded, whimpering. His laughter rang out in big, belly peals. Squishy youth always triumphed over my bone and cartilage. Each time I thought I could hold out. Each time my eyes watered and I had to surrender. I lost the battles, but won sweet memories with my son.
Life can be like that, too. How often do we play games we can’t win? Like Boggle against my husband, there is no chance of victory, only opportunity to either enjoy the journey or set a healthy boundary.
Oh, there are dream destinations: the clean house, our goal weight, a happy marriage. The thing is, those end goals aren’t the end. When we get there, no golden buzzer sounds to bedazzle the stage with confetti and launch us to the final round. Ultimate wins are rare. More often, success is a moment on a stream that we paddle up. We can stay there with effort, but setting the cruise control will likely sweep us back downstream.
The cardio to hold our ground in these areas is worth it. The empty laundry basket, some extra space in our jeans, a smile shared across the table—each is a reason to celebrate. Conquest may not be possible, but management is. Every effort in the journey makes today a better place and breaks trail for tomorrow.
Then there are tangles that never admit a truce: quicksand zones, where our struggle digs us deeper. Pleasing everyone. Trying to be perfect. Social media debates where everyone is yelling and no one is listening.
Surrender can be the best course correction even without roadblock flashers. There is only so much of us to go around. Saying yes to one thing means saying no to others.
There is no shame in admitting a battle isn’t worth the fight, and choosing not to engage. Hard work is necessary to live and love well–we know life isn’t all about us or what makes us happy. But sometimes it’s more helpful for everyone if we care from a distance rather than jumping into the mosh pit.
Our strength and focus are worth saving for the right battles in God’s timing. We have to follow the Spirit’s leading to know when to invest ourselves and when to guard our pearls from death by bacon.
So clean out your email inbox, keep praying for breakthrough, put on your deodorant. Fight the battles that make life sweeter in the process and release the ones that come only to steal, kill, and destroy.
Eventually I had to find another way to laugh with my son at lights out. We abandoned the game, but held onto the joy.
Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces. Matthew 7:6 NIV
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10 NIV
How do you see this at work in your life? What battles could you leave behind to gain victory?